Congratulations Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu, winner of the Oscar for Best Director! This is now four years in a row that I've interviewed the Best Director winner. Though at the time, I wasn't thinking about awards or anything else besides what to ask about the film and their process as a filmmaker. In an industry that loves data and obsessing over success, I can't help but notice a bit of a pattern here. Not that I am any indicator or predictor or grand wizard of the Oscars, but if anything I have my eye trained on very talented filmmakers and outstanding films. With Iñárritu winning this year, that makes four years in a row of winners interviewed, including Alfonso Cuarón, Ang Lee, even Michel Hazanavicius (of The Artist).
One of this year's must see documentaries is Citizenfour, directed by Laura Poitras, an inside look at the story of whistblower Edward Snowden. Poitras was contacted by Snowden early on and was right there with him, filming the entire event, as he leaked the information from Hong Kong about the NSA's spying program that stunned the world in May of 2013. Poitras has made two other provocative docs previously, The Oath and Flag Wars, and she's back with another one that is a bit more intimate, but still as powerful. I raved about Citizenfour after catching its premiere at the New York Film Festival, and I met up with Laura for an interview in New York City. What follows is a fascinating discussion about the power of storytelling.
"I wanted to make the ski trip to hell!" That's exactly what he has made. I really, really love Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure, it's one of my favorite films this year and if you're looking for something fun and original to watch give this one a look. I've been pushing this film and highlighting it as much as possible because it's not easy to get Marvel audiences interested in Swedish films about a family on a "ski trip to hell". But this is one of those great films that stands out in a crowd, and you will probably want to visit the Alps after. While traveling to promote the release, I met up with Swedish writer and director Ruben Östlund (of the films Play, Involuntary and Gitarrmongot previously) to talk about Force Majeure. Watch the full video below.
It has been a while. So, how are things? Over the many years I've been running this website I've had a few amazing chats with Jason Reitman. I first met Jason way back in 2007, interviewing him for his second film Juno at the Toronto Film Festival. That was followed up with the legendary gondola interview from the Telluride Film Festival, where Peter Sciretta from SlashFilm and I talked with Jason about making Up in the Air as we slowly rode a gondola up the mountain and back down. It has been five years since I've sat down for a formal interview with Jason, despite meeting up at film festivals for Labor Day last year and Men, Women & Children this year, but as always it's so much fun to talk with him. Here's our latest chat.
One of my favorite documentaries, in fact one of the very best documentaries this year, is one called The Overnighters from director Jesse Moss. The film follows a wild, almost unbelievable story set in North Dakota about a local Pastor named Jay Reinke who risks everything to help his new neighbors. It won over crowds at the Sundance Film Festival this year, picked up a Special Jury Prize, before going on to play at the Tribeca, Sheffield, Montclair, Sydney and New Zealand Film Festivals, winning awards at Full Frame, Miami and San Francisco, too. Drafthouse Films bravely picked up the doc and it's now playing in select theaters. I was lucky enough to meet up with Jesse Moss for an interview in New York last week and it was wonderful.
One of our favorite movies out of Fantastic Fest 2014 was Keanu Reeves' new action vehicle John Wick, in theaters this week. The Golden Briefcase hosts Tim and Jeremy were honored to sit down for a chat with Keanu Reeves at Fantastic Fest to talk about playing John Wick. The guys spoke to him about his Fest experience, revenge for dogs, kung fu and more. They also talk about working with John Wick directors Chad Stahelski & David Leitch and to their extensive stunt career when handling the action throughout the film. Be sure to check out Jeremy’s review from the Fest and go see John Wick in theaters starting this week.
One of the highlights of Fantastic Fest 2014 was Drafthouse Films' own anthology horror sequel ABCs of Death 2. The Golden Briefcase hosts Tim and Jeremy had a chance to sit down with two of the filmmakers in the anthology (of the letter 'V') to discuss their segment further during Fantastic Fest. It's a bit late, but here's the interview. Director Jerome Sable + writer/producer Nicholas Musurca are the minds behind 'V is for Vacation' (see our first look). The guys talk about the thought process behind the approach to their short and talk about some of the takeaways from viewing the first film that helped guide their segment.
"A journey should always be mysterious…" One of the best films of 2014 is Birdman, the fifth feature from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, following up Biutiful four years ago. Birdman premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festivals, and will also play at the New York Film Festival before landing in theaters this October. After catching the premiere up in the mountains in Telluride (my review), I met up with Iñárritu for a 15 minute chat about all things: from life to filmmaking to laughter to turning 50 and the lessons he has learned. It happens to be one of the best chats I've had with a filmmaker, and it's rejuvenating to listen to him talk. "If you don't do something that does not terrify you, why do it?"
"Action is a magic trick… And good editing and good sound are your friend." In theaters this weekend is Fury, the latest from writer/director David Ayer, following-up his Schwarzenegger flick Sabotage and the LAPD movie End of Watch before that. This time he brings us a movie set during World War II, following one American tank as it continues to work its way through Germany near the end of the war. I really loved the movie, it's brutal yet emotional and was everything I was hoping to see out of this kind of tank action movie. I met up with David Ayer in New York City earlier this week for a chat about making action movies. "Action takes time, and it takes articulation. And you've got to think of it like stop-motion photography."
"It was all very difficult…" It's not surprising that it is as wonderful to sit down and talk with the people from Studio Ghibli as it is to watch the wonderful movies they make. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to interview Hayao Miyazaki prior to his retirement during a trip over to the US to promote Ponyo. While up in Toronto at TIFF 2014 this year, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet up with and interview Isao Takahata, the director of the beautiful film The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which was released in Japan last year and arrives in US theaters this fall. He was wonderful to speak with, making my entire trip worth it.
Meet Xavier Dolan from Quebec, Canada. He's currently 25 years old with five films under his belt, four of them premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. I've been following Xavier closely since catching Heartbeats, his second film, at Cannes back in 2010. At Cannes this year he premiered Mommy, an exhilarating story of a mother and her troubled son and the relationship they strike up with their neighbor (watch the trailer that we're quoted in here). I loved the film, one of my favorites this year, and have been looking forward to meeting Xavier. What would he be like in person? Could I get honest answers out of him? (The answer: yes.) He lets loose in this two-part 20 min chat about making movies, his cinematic style, and career as an actor.
"You need to experience the dynamite… to know that the dynamite can go off." Just last week we featured Starred Up as our latest Monthly Must See, an intense, brutal but incredible prison movie from English director David Mackenzie starring Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn. You may not recognize the name at first, but you should certainly recognize his films - David Mackenzie's filmography includes Young Adam, Asylum, Hallam Foe (or Mister Foe in the US), Spread with Ashton Kutcher, the sci-fi Perfect Sense and the music film Tonight You're Mine, all before he went on to make Starred Up. Last week I sat down for a chat with David on the realism of the film and finding actor Jack O'Connell, who plays inmate Eric Love.
"It's the essence of flirting." So how do you refresh and revitalize the romantic comedy genre? That's what I was hoping to find out from Canadian director Michael Dowse, the man behind the excellent film What If. I first saw this film at last year's TIFF 2013, and loved it, ranking it as one of my 5 favorite films of that festival. It was known as The F Word back then (and still is in Canada) but was retitled to What If for its US release, which is something I had to ask him about. What If stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as a young couple perfect for each other–their chemistry was a topic, too. View the full video interview below.
"F*!k the system." Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has been one of my favorite filmmakers since the very early days of FirstShowing. I fought hard to secure an interview with him four years ago during the release of his fourth film Mother, and had a wonderful time talking in person in Los Angeles. At the end of our interview we discussed plans for his next project, Snowpiercer, a sci-fi/post-apocalyptic adaptation of a graphic novel set entirely on a train. Now, four years later, here we are again and Snowpiercer has finally arrived. I met up with Bong Joon-ho again in New York City this time, as he's touring the US to promote the release, and we chatted about crafting this sci-fi masterpiece. It's a fun discussion, focused on the film itself.